Empowering Progressive Clergy in Africa

UNITED COALITION OF AFFIRMING AFRICANS

The core focus of The Fellowship Global is to provide pastoral care for LGBTI communities and to pioneer an open and affirming Church movement in hostile climates. TFG is one of a few organizations from the Global north that is deeply connected to on the ground grass roots movement building in Africa.

In 2014, The Fellowship Global has solidified a working partnership with clergy on the ground in East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda) to launch the Africa Theological Fellowship. The introduction of this umbrella Christian organization made a splash with national press coverage (NTK and K24, October 15, 2014 and K24 October 17,2014). The Africa Theological Fellowship is a game changer on the ground as it legally registers the second LGBTI affirming progressive Christian entity in East Africa. It will house:

  1. the United Coalition of Affirming Africans (UCAA) Kenya: a growing group of clergy who are engaged in the ongoing work of theological discovery and advocacy to shift attitudes in the Christian Kenyan context
  2. the Cosmopolitan Affirming Church, a mission Church for the LGBTI community established through a partnership between LGBTI activist and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
  3. Africa Theological Fellowship Publishing house, a boutique publishing enterprise focused on delivering progressive content to feed both the academy, the media, and the Church establishment

The United Coalition of Affirming Africans in Rwanda has emerged as a model chapter for the UCAA. The United Coalition of Affirming Africans in Rwanda is a robust and dynamic group of clergy who have coalesced around a gospel of inclusion and have publically pledged to welcome LGBTI people into their churches.

Clergy and advocates in Cote’ d’Ivoire and Democratic Republic of Congo are also working with The Fellowship Global to establish a chapter of the UCAA in each of those countries. This constellation of UCCA groups in East and West Africa, lays the groundwork for a pan African progressive Christian movement. Support for progressive faith leaders has the potential to skip decades of struggle in the movement to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Their journey includes discussing how colonialist laws and missionary mentalities have become the springboard for the export of homophobia by US-based Evangelicals like Scott Lively and Rick Warren. As UCAA grass-roots faith leaders engage in the dialogue about religion, culture and human sexuality, they have their own stories of how the Bible can be used to control and harm—or support and heal. They are ready to talk about how social, legal, and moral inclusion of LGBTI people is connected to the economic and social concerns of the country.

Ultimately, this grassroots movement with a progressive faith frame can proactively connect the LGBTI experience in Africa with the totality of the human experience in Africa. As in the American LGBTI movement, particularly among Black Americans, strategic points of access to drive LGBTI inclusion in Africa can be woman’s issues and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

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